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University System of Maryland schools will freeze tuition, room and board this year

The University System of Maryland will freeze tuition, room and board for students for the coming year, including at Towson University.
The University System of Maryland will freeze tuition, room and board for students for the coming year, including at Towson University. (Lloyd Fox)

The University System of Maryland will freeze tuition, room and board for students for the coming year, despite the economic impact of the pandemic on university finances.

The freeze will affect both undergraduate and graduate students — some 170,000 — for the coming year. Undergraduate tuition at the university’s flagship College Park campus is $8,824 for students who live in Maryland and $34,936 for those who live outside the state. The room and board is $12,515.

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“The Board of Regents is profoundly aware of the pressures facing everyone in higher education during this time — faculty, staff, and especially students,” said Linda Gooden, chair of the Board of Regents, in a statement. “Our students worked hard to adjust to the unexpected changes brought on by the pandemic while also completing their academic work — they ‘pushed through’ these challenges all the way to the final weeks of the 2020 spring semester.”

The regents decided to put the freeze in place, despite losses the university system sustained in relation to the pandemic. In April, Chancellor Jay Perman told the legislature that he estimated a potential loss of about $230 million to the system.

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The universities gave partial room and board refunds to students when their semester went online in March. In addition, the university incurred costs in transitioning to online classes.

Perman said last month that the modifications campuses will need to make to get ready for students when they return to campus in the fall will further stretch the budget.

Buildings will need to be frequently and thoroughly cleaned, students will have to be socially distanced in dorms and classrooms, and students and staff will have to be monitored and tested regularly, among other expensive changes.

The university already has said it is freezing hiring, looking at eliminating positions and reducing the amount of money put aside for construction projects, but Perman has not ruled out employee furloughs and layoffs.

“By freezing tuition for the upcoming year, we’re trying to ease the financial strain on our students and families, while continuing to offer the highest quality academic experience, an experience that defines our university system,” Perman said.

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